48 hours in Bangkok:
Bangkok. The Big Mango. One of the most exciting cities in the world and one that definitely deserves a place on your bucket list. While many choose to spend only a night or two before escaping to the tropical islands, there is so much to discover that not surprisingly, thousands of visitors choose to stay much longer.
As a main transport hub, many people also stop here on layovers between other countries, sometimes only spending a few hours at the airport. But if you ever have a chance to visit on an extended stopover where you have a chance to explore the city, you should definitely do it! In this article, we’ve suggested things to do and see to help you experience the city like a real Bangkokian in only 48 hours or less.
At the airport
After touching down at Suvarnabhumi airport, you have a couple different options. You can easily book a metered taxi at the designated taxi counter. The fair from the airport to central Bangkok is around 400-600 baht ($12-$18) plus 50 baht airport charge. However, if you’re feeling adventurous (or on a tight budget), you could take the airport rail link train which connects to the BTS Skytrain system at Phaya Thai, and the MRT (underground) at Makkasan station. Car rental is also an option, although for trips in central Bangkok public transport is usually quicker and more convenient.
When it comes to finding accommodation in Bangkok, there’s so much choice that this shouldn’t be a problem at all, whatever your budget. The majority of budget visitors head to the backpacker-friendly Khao San Road where it’s possible to find private rooms for $10 per night and dorm beds for even less. Affordable 3 or 4-star boutique hotels can be easily found all over town. Post pandemic, there are also some excellent deals on 5-star hotels, so it might be worth spending a bit more for a truly luxurious experience.
With accommodation sorted out, it’s time to see some sights. If it’s your first time in Bangkok, we recommend taking an afternoon to get to know some of Bangkok’s temples. Start your day by visiting Wat Phra Kaew – also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The iconic temple, located within the grounds of the grand palace is regarded as one of the most important temples in Thailand and an anchor of Thai spiritual life.
From here, you can easily move on to explore other nearby temples such as Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha) or Wat Arun, also known as the temple of dawn situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya river.
From the riverside you can easily catch one of the Chao Phraya express boats. This is a very convenient and cheap public transportation service that helps you easily get around many of the city’s major landmarks while avoiding the city’s traffic jams.
There are four different boats with orange, green, blue or yellow flags. The blue flag tourist boats run every day from 9:00 to 17:30, hitting all major landmarks along the way. The orange and yellow flags are the cheaper commuter boats that tend to fill up quickly and they run until around 19:00 daily. Using the river boats is very easy. You can simply hop on and off and buy a ticket from the attendant onboard.
Time for some street food
They say an army marches on its stomach, so it’s a good thing then that in Bangkok you’re never far away from delicious things to eat. Street food can be found all over the city, but we particularly recommend Wattana Panich in Ekkamai for a delicious bowl of beef noodle soup and Somtum Der in Silom for northeastern (Isan) inspired Thai dishes. The Michelin starred Jay Fai in the Democracy Monument area is a Bangkok icon and arguably one of the most famous street food vendors in the world. Yaowarat Road with its numerous stalls in the heart of Chinatown is also a great option.
After a busy couple of days of sightseeing, what better way to wind down than treating yourself to food and some cocktails at one of Bangkok’s many rooftop bars. Yao Rooftop Bar at the Bangkok Marriott Surawongse provides Chinese-influenced decor and menu along with gorgeous views over the city’s business district Silom.
Not far from here, you’ll also find the acclaimed Sirocco @ Sky Bar Lebua – the one that was made famous by the Hangover 2 movie. The views are mesmerizing, the dining is exquisite but it won’t be cheap. Prepare to fork out at least $10 for a beer and more for cocktails.
For a more laid back (and more affordable) experience, consider heading to the Sukhumvit area where you’ll find dozens of impressive rooftop bars such as Above Eleven with its Peruvian/Japanese-inspired restaurant at Fraser Suites, Sukhumvit 11. Then there’s the craft beer bar Brewski, located 30 stories above the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel on Sukhumvit Road. For nice music and chilled-out vibes visit the Nest which can be found above Le Fenix hotel also on Sukhumvit 11.
If you’re on a budget, make your way to Khao San Road (catch a riverboat to Phra Arthit Pier or take a taxi) for cheap food and drinks, or party until the wee hours at one of the many bars and clubs.
To reboot yourself before departure, take advantage of the many options to relax and de-stress with a bit of pampering. Spending a couple of hours with spa and massage therapy is an excellent way to prepare yourself for the flight back home. Banish stress and chronic pains with a Thai massage which can be found for as little as $7-$10 at many of the local massage shops. Try a facial, body polish or Japanese sauna at Health Land, a spa & massage chain offering various treatments for an affordable price with locations all over the city.
Finally, there is nothing better than ending your journey with the best version of yourself. Bangkok is a global hub for cosmetic surgery and non-invasive aesthetic treatments, such as dermal fillers and Botox. There are thousands of beauty clinics in the city, but you’ll want to make sure you’re in good hands. For high-quality Botox treatment in Bangkok, we recommend MedConsult Clinic. Here you can book a professional consultation and treatment with a Harley street-trained English doctor for a competitive price during your Bangkok stay. The clinic is also popular with visitors who need a fast Covid PCR test in Bangkok with a fit-to-fly certificate in order to travel.
Now you should hopefully have enough information to make most of your stopover in Bangkok. This is a huge, exciting city, and you’ll probably find that there’s just so much to see and do, you’ll want to come back for more!